Syrian Child Refugees Now Number One Million, UN Reports


One million Syrian children are now living in refugee camps because of the civil war in their country, according to figures announced by the United Nations today.

The latest statistics from UNICEF and the UNHCR show that more than half of the 1.9 million refugees from the Syrian conflict are under the age of 18. Some 740,000 of them are younger than 11.

Many of the child refugees are in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. Others have fled as far away as North Africa and Europe. More than 3,500 children in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq have crossed Syria's borders either unaccompanied or separated from their families.

The UN agencies noted that in addition to the physical upheaval, fear, stress and trauma that many of the children have experienced, they are also vulnerable to being used for child labour, forced into early marriage and even sexual exploitation and trafficking.

"This one millionth child refugee is not just another number," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in New York. "This is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend."

The UN agencies pressed the need to find a political solution in Syria, and urged the warring parties to stop targeting civilians and recruiting children.

"The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures. Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope," said António Guterres, High Commissioner of the UN refugee agency, in Geneva.

The UN agencies urged governments in the region to ensure that children and their families are safe to leave Syria and that borders remain open so civilians can seek refuge. They warned that those who fail to meet these obligations under international humanitarian law should be held fully accountable for their actions.


Click this link to find out more about an initiative to tell the story of life in the Syrian refugee camps. To find out more about life in the Zaatari the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, click here.

(Photo: Syrian child refugees )